People often write me that we’re helping OVER THERE, whereas we should be helping RIGHT HERE. My answer is–yes, probably.
Aid is needed by various people in various places. But it so happened that we’re helping the people of the Donbass. To be honest, I never was involved in helping anyone before the war, except myself. I was never a volunteer anywhere, did not participate in any initiatives. I empathized from afar, sometimes gave money to street musicians, and did reposts on social media. Though that’s been rare in recent times.
It was the war made me, at one point, drop everything, collect a carload of food, and take it into the hell of war. That was Pervomaysk. What’s there to say? It just so happened, I didn’t choose, didn’t decide. It was a spontaneous action which I will never be able to explain.
My first orphanage, dorm, retirement home, hospice, were all on the Donbass.
Where I saw another extreme of life, under wartime conditions. I saw abandoned disabled children, elderly, paralyzed. I encountered lies, deception for the first time. In the midst of war. I don’t know what I found more shocking, military operations or the squalor of human nature.
Years later, this is now a huge part of my life. But here’s what I want to say.
Back then, in 2014, we helped everyone who was there. As years passed, our aid became more selective. We have a very serious filter. Yes, there is an aid filter.
Rodion has arrived in Moscow together with his mom!
I want to express my thanks to Irina Bednova who helped us organize FREE rehabilitation treatment in Moscow.
Rodion was born during the war in Lugansk. He was so long awaited that his arrival turned out to be unexpected. After six months it was clear he had problems with hearing. Only after a year was he diagnosed with deafness. One must understand LPR has, to put it mildly, very limited health care capabilities. Moreover, it did not have the right specialists.
In May 2019 the boy had a cochlear implant made on the right ear in Moscow, thanks to Irina Bednova.
In September such an operation was performed on the left ear, but in Kiev. Also for free, thank God.
Every day, literally every day, I get messages saying “why help these idlers, our own people are struggling too, let them find a job!” Others say they are themselves struggling, but are not “begging”. Every time I explain why this is false logic, but people keep coming and spitting their venom. I want to respond: just walk by, nobody’s forcing you to give money. It’s all voluntary. It’s up to you! But most importantly, never make such comparisons! Everyone is in a different situation, individual people are different too. Thank God you can make do without assistance! Not everyone is that strong, dammit. I’m writing banalities here, but where is all this anger coming from?
People! Just be thankful you don’t know what it is to be under mortar fire! Or spend the night in a bomb shelter! Be thankful you don’t know what it’s like to live for several years without electricity or tap water.
And you know what? It seems everyone thinks they would do everything right in that situation! That they know how to live right because they are so awesome! They’d leave Donbass, find work someplace else, their husband would never abandon them, and they would definitely would not let an asshole like that be the father of their children, and in the end they’d proudly collect alimony. He’d never hide from them!
Nothing of the kind.
I’ll say one thing–don’t tempt fate! Nobody knows what will happen. Just be thankful none of that happened to you. Walk by if you don’t want to help, but don’t judge! Life is unpredictable and the law of boomerang works all too well, as I’ve seen.
What is this all about? Many people are criticizing the family of our Ira from Vergunka. They condemn her, the kids, us for helping. But Ira does not have it easy, and she’s no beggar. She always works, often on multiple jobs. She’s alone, with two kids. She never asks for anything and never complains.
We have good news! Hurrah!
Last time I wrote they had problems concerning their custody.
The husband threw out the wife together with the kids out of their home in Crimea. She had no place to go, so she returned to her mother in LPR. That’s where tragedy happened. Her heart gave out, even though she was still young. She died right in front of the kids. The granny, when she returned, saw the kids sitting next to the body. Ever since it’s been a struggle to get the kids’ custody of the kids and depriving the father of parental rights. But since he’s not an LPR citizen, it’s an extra difficulty. But, Thank god! Social services deprived him of parental rights and transferred the case to courts.
With time, the granny will be able to get child care benefits. The most important thing is that all this time she was afraid the kids would be taken away from her.
During all this time, the granny and the kids lived off her retirement and odd jobs and our aid. These odd jobs are not easy to come by. There’s nobody to live the young ones with, and they often fall ill. It’s a complicated story. Anyone who’s raised small children without help knows what it’s like. And she herself is not a young woman, which makes it doubly difficult.
Here’s a situation, a difficult one, and, alas, we can’t go into all the details.
Vanya’s 15, lives with grandma. The family was leading a normal life, as far as it’s possible for a fatherless family to live in LPR. Yes, they are from Lugansk, we were connected by social workers who also aid the family.
The mother has a job at the front desk at the railway station. The grandma draws a pension. Not much money, but just enough.
On April 26, 2017, the boy was walking from an aikido session back home. He was hit by a fast-moving car on a pedestrian crossing. I won’t go into all the details. Bottom line is that his life was saved, but he’s disabled. He had a broken forehead bone, requiring a trepanation. In the end he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Raynaud’s Syndrome, and several other ailments (the medical history extract is at the bottom of the post).
This New Year’s party for the kids was organized for the Lugansk Social Services Center for the Family, Children, and Youth (every time I have to look up the full name–it’s simply horror). This Center, with which we’ve been working for the last five years, helps children.
This year we’re once again the Grandfather Frost. The Center provides aid to children who found themselves in difficult situations. Disabled children, children of single moms, multi-child families. Children from families who lost their homes to shells. Children who lost their providers due to fighting. The Center helps them all in accordance with its abilities. As do we. You will see many children from families whom we assist among these photos.
None of these kids have it easy.
In addition to the 65 kids at this party, we brought greetings to those kids who prepared it. About 50 children from various dance and theater groups performed at this party at the former Pioneers’ Home in Lugansk. As the kids said themselves, they’ve been performing for 20 days at various parties and watching how other kids get presents. Therefore we could not but give them presents as well. Lena said they were “beside themselves with joy–we are ALSO getting presents?”
Kalinovo is a town in the “gray zone”. Shelling there is the norm. Yes, even today, when everyone is enthusiastically writing about troop separation and “silence”. Kalinovo is right next to Pervomaysk, LPR.
On December 27 our team visited that town for the New Year tree celebration as Grandfather Frosts bearing presents for the kids. Alas, I was not there, but our friends photographed everything. For many children at the event life without war is pure fantasy. They’ve known no other. They don’t know it’s possible to go out at night, that there might not be a curfew. That there might not be shooting, and that one doesn’t have to be always ready to throw oneself on the ground. There is a whole generation which will go to school knowing nothing but war.
What else is there to write–alas, nothing has changed in those places since last year. The situation has not gotten better. As much shooting as before. People live like before. They are surviving. Everyone who could has left. Those who haven’t are not there by choice.
And yes, children live there too. They go to school, to extracurricular activities, theater circles. These kids are just like yours and mine. Merry, funny, sometimes serious. They believe in Grandfather Frost and Snow Maiden, they expect miracles like all other kids on Earth.
I can say one thing. The Kalinovo holidays are the most heartfelt of all we’ve visited. People are excited to get presents like nowhere else.
The holidays are organized by the inhabitants themselves. Grandfather Frosts, Snow Maidens, Baba Yagas, the costumes, the plot, the preparations, rehearsals. For their own kids. And I’m boundlessly glad that our team is making its own contribution to providing a bit of happiness for these kids.
Friends, we have a new family. I often have to read comments about how Donbass people are freeloaders and we shouldn’t be helping them. It’s saddening to have to time and again explain, prove seemingly obvious things. That people there struggle, that there’s fighting there, and it’s not easy to leave. Yes, it’s not easy, and forget aobu tthe stories about how supposedly here in Russia they are being given everything but they are rudely refusing, they only want to come to Moscow. People, let’s just pause and think about the fact that it’s VERY difficult to get set up, and that not everyone can readily do it. Many of those whom we help have left and tried. But failed. And yes, we should not we are not helping every single person there.
Our people are not those who are simply struggling. They are people who are struggling very hard. It’s awful to have to write such things, but yes, we do see tears from people who did not expect the help. People who often have nobody to turn to, nowhere to go to and, it seems were at some breaking point. Disabled, elderly, single mothers with many children. The most vulnerable.
Our new family is like that.
Look at the kids on the photo. Their mother abandoned them.
She probably doesn’t think she did. Simply dumped them onto her elderly mother, their grandmother, and vanished. Left them in Lugansk and went somewhere without war.
Unfortunately, we sometimes see such “deadbeats”,
Oksana’s husband perished on May 9, 2015, defending his Motherland. I don’t even know what to write, the new Motherland of LPR, or the old one, but which one? He was a militiaman and, like many, he wen toff to defend his home in Lugansk in ’14.
He left behind a wife with two children, Masha and Kolya. Here they are, on the first photo.
Oksana went through hell and one can’t even say she’s out of it yet. Only the children are keeping her afloat. She did not really live for several years after the death, she loved her husband so much. She closed inwardly but, thank God, did not lose her mind. We have helped many children whose mothers went insane due to what they went through, and who now live with their grandmothers. Kolya and Masha live with their mom and thank God everyone is alive and well.
But they are struggling.
In the fall I wrote about how all of their appliances burned down. Thanks to the money we collected we were able to not only help the family with food and medications, but even bought them a washing machine. Oksana never asked anything of us. She is very modest and does not complain. Many thanks to caring people who volunteered to help in this difficult situation.
You know, I am often offended by people who leave comments stating they also fare poorly but “they are not takers.” I’ll say this: none of these people is a “taker”. What is more–one must ask. This is normal and correct in a difficult situation. Nobody has written a comment “Dunya, please help me, I’m barely surviving.” No, these comments are simple insults directed at me and at those whom we help. I always feel bitter when I read them. I would like there to be as few people as possible in such situations. But I would also want people not to envy others and were instead able to be happy for them.
Interestingly, often people we help turn down our aid. They may have an empty refrigerator, but they’ll say “someone needs it more”. Be merciful and don’t judge! Be able to forgive, not envy, and give. Anyone can find themselves in a tight spot, anyone at all, and this war has taught me that. Don’t judge and don’t think that if you are doing well, it’s because you are doing something rights. Sometime these are people who are at odds with logic. Don’t overestimate it, it will get ahead of you and smack you on the nose.
Rodion is a boy from Lugansk who was born deaf. He turned 3 in November. And thank God he was able to undergo cochlear implantation on both ears by that age. The first ear was implanted in Moscow last spring, the second in September, in Kiev. The implants will eventually allow him to hear.
As you know, we helped organize the Moscow part. Thanks to Irina Bednova, the implant was done for FREE. Thanks to you, we were able to help the family with money for the trip, stay, medications, etc. In Kiev the operation was also free of charge, and thank God that’s how it turned out.
But now there’s this situation.
The operation was only one stage. The rest consist of tuning the apparatus and conducting exercises. We’ve managed to deal with the latter. There is a clinic in Rostov, MasterSlukh, which now works with the boy. Rodion made several visits and had intensive exercises with their specialists. They tuned the Moscow implant and worked with the boy. And, most importantly, taught the mom how to work with Rodion and how to have exercises with him. Big thanks to physicians, educators, and hearing specialists who are helping Anya (mom) and Rodion!